Part 5 in a series.
Once U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, Fla., opted not to run for reelection, his decision set off a wave of challengers to claim Congressional District 15 which encompasses most of Polk County, plus portions of Lake County and a large chunk of suburban Hillsborough County. Florida Daily will look at each of the Republican candidates trying to replace him.
After a brief health scare, former state Rep Ross Spano is back on the campaign trail, looking to be the new congressman in Congressional District 15 which covers eastern Hillsborough County, western Polk County and southern Lake County. Spano went to the hospital in the third week of July with what his campaign described as a mild cardiac event.
Spano decided early on in the hospital not to panic about his health.
“I have to fight through this and kind of get back on track. That was my mentality. Wasn’t really anything that was an overwhelming challenge or concern for me,” Spano told Florida Daily.
His wife on the other hand had Spano on a short leash for about a week after the incident. However, Spano tells Florida Daily he is back in the saddle and ready to go.
“I have to be sensitive and got to honor my wife. I haven’t been married for 27 years by not listening to her,” Spano said.
Back on the campaign trail, Spano says he is anxious to serve after being a lawyer and then getting elected to the Florida House in 2012 where he spent six years. While his primary opponents have painted him as a career politician and opportunity seeker, Spano told Florida Daily he just has a passion to serve.
“Your opponents are going to use that stuff against you because they think that’s what is going to sell, that’s what is going to get people to vote against you,” Spano said. “I think people know better.”
The Hillsborough resident is most proud of one of his earliest accomplishments in the Legislature when he led the charge to pass legislation that would allow for victims of human trafficking to get their convictions expunged and which increased penalties on pimps and traffickers.
“We had victims that were essentially being rescued but they couldn’t find jobs and couldn’t get into school to get their college education because they were convicted felons,” Spano told Florida Daily. “They were convicted felons because they were forced by their traffickers to engage in criminal behavior. So now we’ve been able to see dozens and dozens of victims have their records expunged and now they are in school and have jobs”
Spano was also integral in the passing of changes to the Stand Your Ground law that shifted the way the burden of proof for cases would be handled in court. He called it absurd that people would have to try to escape or retreat before they could have the ability to defend themselves.
“I think Stand Your ground is solid. I’m proud of the fact the we here in Florida have the ability to defend ourselves,” Spano said.
Spano was part of a Republican Legislature that passed tax cuts each year he was in Tallahassee. In Washington, he wants to push U.S. Rep Francis Rooney’s, R-Fla. bill that would reduce the salary of any member of the House or Senate that has already served 12 years to a dollar a year.
“I think that would go a long way toward getting some of these career politicians out of Washington and back where they belong in their communities,” Spano said.
Spano plans to support President Donald Trump if elected.
“People voted for him because he was different,” Spano said. “He wasn’t business as usual. He wasn’t a typical politician. They wanted somebody to go to DC and turn the tables over and that’s exactly what they got and it’s effective. It’s working.”
Spano told Florida Daily that Trump has exceeded his expectations and, if elected, thinks his job in Congress will be doing what the people back home want him to do.
“People want a wall built,” Spano said. “They want to be safe in their communities. They want to know that certainly criminal illegal aliens that they are picked up by local authorities that they are turned over to the federal government to be deported. That is an important thing.”
In order to face off against a Democrat in November, Spano will have to defeat former state Rep. Neil Combee, developer Sean Harper, GOP state Committeeman Dr. Ed Shoemaker and former Southwest Florida Water Management Government Affairs Coordinator Danny Kushmer in the primary on August 28.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.
In this five part series, Mike Synan dove deeper into the GOP challengers looking to claim Congressional District 15. Read previous articles in this series by clicking here.